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Tourism, Magic and Modernity: Cultivating the Human Garden

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Volume 32

New Directions in Anthropology

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Tourism, Magic and Modernity

Cultivating the Human Garden

David Picard
Foreword by Nelson Graburn, University of California, Berkeley

206 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-201-6 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (September 2011)

ISBN  978-1-78238-321-5 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (September 2013)

eISBN 978-0-85745-202-3 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


The book demonstrates that the ethnographic genre can be effective in advancing a deeper, more thickly described account of tourism at the same time as tourism offers an advantageous lens through which to understand the cultural politics of globalization generally…Its greatest contribution would seem to be a new way of theorizing the complex conjunctions of nature and culture that so often orientalize host societies in tourism imaginaries.”  ·  Annals of Tourism Research

These discrete, flowing narratives form the backdrop to keenly insightful observations on the representation of this lush volcanic island as heritage garden, and of its ‘natives’ caught in a bind: suffering high levels of unemployment and inferior housing conditions, they at once seek the affirmation of being as French as their metropolitan counterparts; yet perform as quaint and rustic folk to the tourist gaze. Hence, the concept of ‘the human garden’.”  ·  Cultural Geographies

Overall, this is an easy and enjoyable book to read that provides a rich set of both theoretical background and primary research findings on the impacts of tourism on local economies and societies. The book nicely integrates theoretical concepts with ethnographic data gathered through a longitudinal and systematic ethnographic research conducted by the book author himself. The book constitutes a very useful reading for researchers-academics, high level students and professionals involved and interested in the measurement and management of the socio-cultural impacts of tourism on tourism destinations.  ·  Tourism Management excellent and engaging commentary on the tourism industry, postcolonial societies and environmental governance. Its strength lies in the nuance and intricacy of its portrayals of social life and the way that it opens up a difficult yet much needed theoretical space in which to contemplate issues such as how we should investigate tourist subjectivity, how collective imaginaries are formed and sustained, and how dynamics of affect and desire constitute tourism as a social practice. Its readability and the vividness of characterisations in Picard’s accounts of his ethnographic observations will make the book an accessible and appealing text to students of tourism studies and social anthropology, and to these fields it makes a notable contribution.  ·  Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change

"Picard re-thinks basic tourism theory through the lens of the garden as a metaphor and of magic as a guiding concept. Original, innovative, scholarly, often unsettling, and deeply ethnographic."  ·  Edward M. Bruner, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Author of The Anthropology of Experience(1986, ed. with Victor W. Turner) and Culture on Tour: Ethnographies of Travel (2005)

"... a brilliant reading of the key metaphors of 'magic', the 'garden', and 'paradise',... a rare, psychoanalytically informed examination of the intimate contours of tourist experience and the types of society it brings about in destinations."  ·  Dean MacCannell, University of California, Davis. Author of The Tourist (1976) and The Ethics of Sightseeing (2011)

“…a very competently crafted book – the author should be congratulated…[a] wonderfully fluent, evocative writing style.”  ·  Jan Harwell, Oxford Brookes University


Drawing from extended fieldwork in La Réunion, in the Indian Ocean, the author suggests an innovative re-reading of different concepts of magic that emerge in the global cultural economics of tourism. Following the making and unmaking of the tropical island tourism destination of La Réunion, he demonstrates how destinations are transformed into magical pleasure gardens in which human life is cultivated for tourist consumption. Like a gardener would cultivate flowers, local development policy, nature conservation, and museum initiatives dramatise local social life so as to evoke modernist paradigms of time, beauty and nature. Islanders who live in this 'human garden' are thus placed in the ambivalent role of 'human flowers', embodying ideas of authenticity and biblical innocence, but also of history and social life in perpetual creolisation.

David Picard is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA) at New University of Lisbon, Portugal. He holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of La Reunion, Indian Ocean and has been a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

Subject: Travel and TourismAnthropology (General)
Area: Asia


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